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Plan BEE
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Vernon Henn who runs Thandi Wines in South Africa, was once a freedom fighter. He grins as he recalls how in 1985 he was the high-school ringleader. His eyes light up as he tells how he used to throw bricks and petrol bombs.

'It was so emotional, you know?' The man he took over from at Thandi, Rydal Jeftha, trumps him, reporting proudly, 'I was involved in the very first uprising. You'd sit in class and these big guys would come in with guns – you just had to flee. It was a terrible time for our parents. They were all "yes, baas".'

Rydal, in Ralph Lauren polo shirt, and Vernon, apparently in permanent laugh mode, are entertaining me with tea and biscuits in the boardroom of Koopmanskloof, one of the biggest of the black economic empowerment enterprises in Cape wine. As head of Koopmanskloof, Rydal is in charge of 520 hectares of vineyards, and a slightly tired-looking cellar that produces a very
substantial 2.5 million litres of wine a year.

But Koopmanskloof no longer bottles any wine. All their sales are in bulk, 'so we lose the valueadded aspect', Rydal reports sadly. 'We used to be strong in the UK. When we sold to Tesco and the Co-op, those were the glory days.' But companies such as Koopmanskloof have never recovered from the major UK multiple retailers signing up to the Courtauld Convention in 2005, agreeing to ship as much wine as possible in bulk. This saved them a fortune, while allowing them to claim the sustainable high ground. But while the aim was environmentally laudable, the social consequences in South Africa have been considerable.

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